Strapping Young Lad - The New Black (2006)
©Century Media


  1. Decimator (2:53)
  2. You Suck! (2:40)
  3. Antiproduct (3:56)
  4. Monument (4:11)
  5. Wrong Side (3:35)
  6. Hope (5:02)
  7. Far Beyond Metal (4:36)
  8. Fucker (3:53)
  9. Almost Again (3:43)
  10. Plyophony (1:54)
  11. The New Black (6:15)

Batty, bizarre, bonkers, cracked, crazy, demented, deranged, lunatic, mad, maniacal, mental, nuts, nutty, psychopathic, psychotic, wacko, and wild are just a few of the many terms categorized to the band we have come to know and love--- Strapping Young Lad (SYL). Forged in Canada, SYLs upbringings were spawned by (see above terms) Devin Townsend. Apart from being involved with many major musical masters such as Steve Vai, Geezer Butler, Jason Newsted to name a few, along with his other self titled ‘Devin Townsend Band’ and solo projects, Townsend has had the highly coveted ability to masterfully craft true pieces of musical art with the tools and balls to take evolutionary steps forward—although people have different views as to what is and is not art.

One of the many things I love about SYL is that their illustrious sound is of sheer magnificence. For starters, I hate to boast the individual because all of the musicians of strapping young lad are excellent, however the unique representation Devin Townsend casts upon the music industry with his totally insane style, combination of various musical instruments and effects, almost unmatchable paramount screaming from the tops of mountains vocal abilities, and absolute comedic/serious/understandable nonsense that can portray a message metaphorically or rather bluntly—“You Suck!” I can almost see what it is parents or grandparents used to (and still do) say, “That is not music, it’s is just noise!” To which the only response is cranking up the volume. The high energy levels SYL blares initiates the listener(s) into a frenzy of jet fueled insanity creating a level of tympanic overload not recommended by your hearing specialist.

Classified under various categories of music genres such as Death, Thrash, Metal/Death/Grind with strong Progressive rock-influences, and melodious influences of industrial metal, one can easily deduce that this band is a mutt. Having so many different styles and influences enable the band to garble layers upon layers upon layers of riffs, vocals, sound effects, and moods into each energetic track. Songs often quickly plunge into intense blast beats and infective viral harmony that invades your system leaving you with a pleasurable curiosity to hear the upcoming/following tracks. What do we have here? A new breed?

Strapping Young Lad caught my ear with their epic album ‘Alien' released 2005 however I never really paid as much attention to them as I have upon listening to their latest release ‘The New Black’. ‘The New Black’ is a little bit toned down compared to ‘Alien’, however it allowed a greater personal appreciation of what this band is capable of. This album presents a barrage of brutally heavy tracks. 'Decimator' opens the album with trademark SYL chugging riffs that gets the energetic the mood going. Completely taking over the opening track is the screaming, blasting, 'You Suck'. It is just the track you want to play to you boss on a bad day. It can easily crowned ‘heaviest song’ on the album. Definitely a pick me upper—sing along anybody? Not far behind is 'Antiproduct' which continues the upbeat uncatchable tempo. It is accompanied with screams and dreams, followed by the presentation various horned instruments and jazz flute at 2:05 of the track that surprisingly works extremely well. How do these boys pull it off?

'Monument' is a marching/protest feeling track that is one of my FAV to listen to. The build up of the song is perfectly done, topped with the rewarding well delivered chorus. A very well rounded song. Tripping in the number five slot is 'Wrong Side'. Now here is an example, and if you are a SYL fan I am sure you asked yourself this before, of the feelings of utter awe as to how Townsend gets away with screeching his lungs out and has not had to have and serious vocal repair surgery (esp. at 0:28-0:37). You wanna hear vocal performance? Check this track out…WoW! The song is quite bizarre, especially upon repeat listens. At first you think, “Yup, good ole SYL”, however there are tons of neat little fillers and the overtones of a fantasy freak show brought to you by a mystery circus. Insane or genius, I can’t tell. Come to think of it, maybe this is the heaviest track on the album.

In comparison to all of the tracks on the album, I find that 'Hope' is a little plain but holds true with a solid traditional explosive metal performance. 'Far Beyond Metal' produces chugging rush that makes you want to make a fist, flex your arm, and head bang your head to hell. As far as total enjoyment goes, this is definitely my FAV. There is a cool but very short appearance of guest vocalist Oderus Urungus from GWAR --- “Ladies and gentlemen, the Maggot Master!” If you are looking for a song to get you pumped for any event, this one is for you. 'Fucker' also has the charming vocal contributions of a guest vocalist, Canadian rock singer Bif Naked. From what I gather track title basically describes the message being portrayed so I will leave it there. Let’s just say that it produces the bands very prideful attitude of being able to perform the music they create. 'Almost Again' has very contrasting moments followed by 'Plyophony' which is more or a less a very well done interlude that perfectly sets up the title track 'The New Black'. This track is a gracious wind down of the album, perfectly bleeding things out, leaving you gasping for more.

As things stand, SYL have officially fulfilled their 5 record contract with Century Media and claims by Devin Townsend that he is calling it quits in anticipation of having a new-born baby at home. If this is the case, then hats off Devin for taking responsibility and a job well done. However, I don’t think this will be the last we see of this Madman.

The New Black is an excellent powerhouse metal album that will defiantly savor your ‘insanity metal’ appetite. You will have a great time listening, often finding yourself regularly returning to it. Get it, don’t regret it!

On the Tuff scale of 1 to 5 it gets 5 f’s: TuFFFFF


*The "Tuff Scale" is not a rating. It is used as a simple grade of aggression presented by the music reviewed.


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